Alzheimer's donors face mix-up

The Alzheimer’s Association has rejected criticism of its fundraising activities by the Alzheimer’s Society, as inquiries into the new organisation continue.

Both the society and sister organisation Alzheimer’s Scotland say they have received donations in the post from people who have confused their organisations with the association. They have lodged a complaint with the Charity Commission querying the legitimacy of the association’s fundraising activities (Third Sector, 28 July).

The spat has come to light just as new research has revealed a rise in the number of deaths from brain diseases including Alzheimer’s over the past 20 years. Deaths from dementia trebled in men and rose nearly 90 per cent among women in England and Wales.

“An address appears very clearly on the association’s literature. To date 6,000 new donors have found no difficulty in contacting this address,” the association’s trustees said in a statement.

Its mailing was approved by the Advertising Standards Authority and identified as belonging to the association, the trustees said.

The association’s founders include Richard Trantom, who helped set up the Alzheimer’s Foundation before it was closed in 2002. A Charity Commission inquiry into the foundation uncovered mismanagement and imposed trustees from the Alzheimer’s Society onto its board, before the foundation was wound up.

An association spokesman said lessons had been learned from the foundation’s experience, and the association would ensure proper accounts and distribution of funds through an independent expert grants advisory group.

The Institute of Fundraising said it was supporting the Alzheimer’s Society’s complaints against the association. After one association mailing this year, the society said it received and returned more than 300 postal donations. “A lot of our supporters see Alzheimer’s on the envelope and assume it is us,” said fundraising director Stephanie Smith. “It has caused confusion.”

The society said it was not opposed to new organisations raising money for dementia research, but was disappointed the association had not approached existing charities to find out where funding was needed.

As a provident society it is an exempt charity, governed by the Financial Services Authority and the Inland Revenue, and the Charity Commission cannot launch a formal session of inquiry.

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